Monday, November 13, 2006

Tiny Is The New Huge


When I was a kid, all of the coolest toys had a prefix like "MEGA" or "SUPER," suggesting that the bigger the toy, the better it was. Today's "toys" are going in the other direction, with descriptors like "nano" and "mini," the former of which suggests a size that the naked eye would have serious trouble finding. Cell phones are following this trend, too: it seems all our electronic devices seem to be shrinking by the day.

These devices hold important visual data. Phones have contact numbers, PDAs have email addresses and appointments, BlackBerrys have email. As the size of the devices decreases, so does the size of the font with which they display this data. If my father is any indication then, little by little, these devices and their small type will begin to alienate their users. He has me read him the song currently playing on his full-size iPod, for goodness' sake. If it's hard for people with reading glasses to use these devices, think of how a blind person must cope with our gadget-crazy society.

What if gadget displays could communicate in Braille? That's the idea behind a prototype technology being developed at the University of Tokyo. Without going into techno-details, the idea is to create a display that can dynamically create an array of tiny raised bumps much like pixels in a computer screen. Writing in Braille and even 3-D pictures would be possible in devices not much bigger than a PDA from today. (from New Scientist Tech) This would allow the blind to join the rest of us with pocket-size cell phones, digital organizers, and even portable music players.

So what's the story? We develop these technological devices to simplify everyday tasks, like communicating. Sometimes real functionality is sacrificed for good looks, or popular form factors. Tiny devices may be all the rage, but at some point they lose their usability. Developing technology that brings an entire new dimension (literally) to accessibility is a direction the industry needs to follow.

iPods for the deaf are a little farther away.

6 Comments:

At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Kevin Hainline said...

Listen, I say Destroy The Old. If you can't see something, you're not allowed to buy it. Can't read an ipod screen? No ipod for you. Slowly, this will bring the technology - and therefore the power, back to the youth.

And if history is any indication, if young people have power, they always use it for good. For example: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the film. The foot clan were rebellious youth with a hidden base with arcade games and a full skate park inside. That is awesome.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Also, "Baby Geniuses."

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger C-Town Kid said...

Despite the apparent overall minimization of our culture, the "bigger is better" theory applies to two pretty obvious issues of today. The first is in regards to food and food portions, which is part of the whole childhood obesity epidemic. Portions of food (and the calories, fat, and cholesterol which lie therein) are getting to be ridiculous: therefore, so are many of us. The other "mega" incidence is in our cars. While the new H3 is a little smaller, the fact remains that monstrous H2s, gargantuan Yukons, etc. are all still wildly popular. This contributes to the rapidly diminishing stores of fossil fuels, and the subsequent increasing of the hole in our ozone and the worldwide temperature (allegedly).

 
At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

children.
Who owns all the weapons? Whom do we hire when blood needs to spill for freedom. How big is that? The world, dude,
Hainline you shouldn't have used your name. Find a very small hole.

 
At 5:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easily I acquiesce in but I think the collection should prepare more info then it has.

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want not concur on it. I assume nice post. Especially the title-deed attracted me to review the unscathed story.

 

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